"Where are we?" Laika and Enzan asked.
"We're at a picnic," he said with a grin.
Enzan blinked then looked at Netto. "You… amaze me."
Netto laughed, "Come on, I hate going into fancy restaurants. Let's just eat some ham and cheese sandwiches in the grass and relax."
Laika actually let himself smile, "Sounds good to me," he said.
Netto nodded back and walked to the back of the car and pulled out a basket, "Good," he said.
Enzan and Laika pulled out their PET's and followed Netto into the empty field. "Are you tired?" Netto asked Enzan.
"Why?" Enzan replied.
"You look tired," Netto said.
Laika gave Enzan a sidelong glance, "You do," he agreed.
Enzan crossed his arms, "Since when do you two care about how tired I am?" he asked.
Netto laughed, "When it possibly means we'll be going on assignment and you're half asleep."
Enzan opened his mouth, then thought the better of it and merely followed Netto.
They walked into a clearing and Enzan helped Netto spread a blanket onto the ground. Then they sat down and Netto opened the basket. Everyone reached in and got a sandwich. They sat for a few minutes in silence, enjoying the mere fact that they just weren't doing anything for once.
After awhile Netto finished off his sandwich and flopped onto his back. "So do I know how to plan a dinner or what?"
Enzan laughed, "I'll give you credit for that much. I wasn't expecting this."
"I don't mind," Laika said while taking another bite from his sandwich. "I'm just glad that I'm not training the new soldiers."
"Is it that hard?" Netto asked.
"Stressful," Laika said thoughtfully.
"You are the least patient person I know," Netto said. "No wonder."
Laika snorted and took another bite.
Searchman smiled and nodded, "Laika-san is having problems with keeping the recruits in line."
"Really?" Enzan asked.
Laika sighed, "Not trouble. It's just that they're…"
"Inexperienced?" Netto asked with a grin.
"Ha ha," Laika said dryly.
Searchman smiled, "It's a matter of how… skittish they are," he said.
"Oh," Enzan said knowingly.
"Is it really that bad?" Netto asked.
"It can be," he sighed.
Netto smirked and lay back down, "Ah well. You're taking a break at least."
"Thank god," Searchman muttered.
After a few hours of easy chatting they all stood up and picked up their things. They walked back to Netto's car and Netto dropped Laika off at his hotel. Then he dropped off Enzan. At the end of the day he walked into his own house and yawned. "That was a great day."
"Yeah," Rockman said.
"I'm glad we actually got Enzan and Laika to relax," Netto said with a grin. "Laika seemed pretty uptight."
"I'm sure he was," Rockman said.
"How could you tell?" Netto asked.
"Searchman," Rockman said simply.
Netto and Rockman both began to laugh. "But seriously, I think this was needed," Netto said.
"Oh, I'm well aware," Rockman teased. "You too you know."
Netto shrugged. "I know," he said simply.
Rockman blinked as an e-mail came into the PET. "Enzan wants to meet you at his work building tomorrow morning."
Netto yawned, "Tell him all right. But I'll be there around 10."
Rockman nodded and made out the e-mail. "Going to bed?" Rockman asked.
Netto nodded, "See you in the morning."
"Night, Netto-kun," Rockman said and disappeared into his own link.
The next morning, Netto was nudged into wakefulness, not by Rockman but by Sitio and Red who were hungry. Netto groaned and pushed away the cat and dog only to have them jump back onto his bed and irritate him even more. Rockman, awakened by Netto's curses towards his pets looked down at the scene and started to laugh. "You forgot to feed them last night," Rockman said with a small giggle.
Netto groaned again and curled up under his warm covers. "Go away," he told his cat and dog sternly. They decided not to listen. Instead Sitio nosed his way under Netto's covers and began to meow loudly while Red just sat on top of his owner.
Rockman snorted with laughter and tried to stifle it so as to not make Netto even more upset. "They're hungry," he said with a small quiver in his voice.
"They're double teaming me!" Netto screeched.
"Smart pets," Rockman noted while bringing his hand up to his mouth so he wouldn't give away his amusement.
Netto groaned and moved around a bit so that Red would jump off. Then he picked up Sitio and pushed the cat out from under his covers. Then he pushed back the covers and sat up, rubbing his eyes sleepily. "What time is it?" he asked.
"Nine," Rockman answered. "I was going to wake you up soon anyways."
Netto yawned and got out of bed. "Fair enough," he muttered and wandered out of his bedroom with his cat and dog at his heels. He walked into the kitchen and put food and water in their bowls which they immediately began to devour. With a satisfied grin, Netto put up the food and wandered into the bathroom for his early morning shower.
Netto came out of the bathroom twenty minutes later with a toothbrush in his mouth while rubbing his hair dry. Rockman directed him to his various supplies that he would need for his meeting with Enzan that day and by 9:45 he was out the door and on his way.
At about 10:05 Netto made his way into Enzan's office, yawning slightly, but overall not feeling to badly.
"Morning, Netto," Enzan said without looking up from his computer screen. "You're late."
Netto shrugged, "Only five minutes. I got stuck on a detour in the freeway. I was up at nine."
Enzan blinked, "Really? Did a bomb go off by your house?"
Netto glared at him while Rockman laughed. "Worse, his pets were hungry."
"Ah," Enzan said knowingly. "I have no idea why you have pet's Netto. You're busy enough as it is."
Netto shrugged, "They were strays, I took them in."
"You could have taken them to the animal shelter," Enzan pointed out.
Netto shook his head, "They were fully grown though, they'd never get adopted."
Enzan looked at Netto, the computer screen light reflecting off his reading glasses. "You're too nice for your own good, you know that?" he asked.
Netto shrugged, "So? I don't care. Now, what's this about my program?" he asked.
Enzan nodded and pulled the disk out of his computer. "Well, I've been editing it and it looks like we're going to be able to use it. However as the programmer you are the one who has to install it and upload it onto our computers, after meeting with my dad of course."
Netto gulped, Enzan's dad made him nervous. "What is the program for?" he asked.
Enzan took off his glasses and rubbed his head, "The program is for a new program we're developing."
"What is it?" Netto asked.
Enzan smirked, "Why should I tell you?"
"Because I'm your friend and I'll find out anyway whether you tell me or not," Netto replied.
Enzan opened his mouth, then closed it, "True," he admitted. "Well, the program is basically a wipe program, only it only seeks out virus data and deletes that without causing harm to navis or programs. It's still very glitchy but it's far enough along that it needs a security program."
Netto nodded, "That sounds pretty cool. So, I take it this is to avoid the need for using Navis to delete viruses?"
"Kind of, more so it's to free up Navis to get into harder areas and delete the viruses or navi that's causing the problem there," Enzan pointed out.
"So, is my program good enough?" he asked.
Enzan nodded, "I've finished pulling out the small things, I'm sure you still have back doors into it," he said dryly.
Netto shrugged, "Back doors are needed in case it malfunctions. You know that."
Enzan nodded, "I know. So, you need to take it to my dad now and let him look at it. These kinds of decisions have to be finalized by him."
Netto sighed and held out his hand for the disc, "All right," he said.
Enzan gave Netto a small smile and handed him the program. "My dad isn't that bad."
Netto laughed shortly, "You vastly underestimate your dad's glaring ability," he said dryly.
"No, I'm well aware," Enzan replied. "But that doesn't bother me as much after almost 27 years."
Netto nodded and slipped the disk into his pocket. "Yeah, I'm sure. I'll be back at five if you're not gone yet."
Enzan shrugged and put his glasses back on, "All right, I'll be gone then."
Netto smirked as he left his office, "Yeah right," he said under his breath.
Netto rode up the long elevator ride to Shuuseki's office. He sighed and fingered the program disk in his pocket. "Enzan's dad makes me nervous," Netto sighed.
Rockman shrugged, "He is technically your boss in this situation."
Netto made a face, "I know that, but still. He reminds me of Enzan when we first met."
Rockman nodded, "Even worse in some regards."
Netto laughed hollowly, "No kidding."
The elevator dinged pleasantly and the doors slid open to reveal one lone door in front of it. Netto stepped up to it and knocked softly. The door clicked and he stepped inside to see Shuuseki sitting behind a large desk looking quite formidable in front of a large window that cast his own form in shadow. /The man knows how to make an impression, doesn't he/ Netto asked Rockman with a small mental laugh.
/First impressions are the lasting ones/ Rockman replied.
"So, you wrote the security program?" Shuuseki asked.
Netto nodded and stepped forward until he was at his desk. "Yes sir," he said and pulled the disk out of his pocket.
Shuuseki took it and eyed it, "Just because you are my son's friend doesn't mean I will be any more lenient on you. I do not work that way."
"I'm well aware," Netto said as pleasantly as he could.
Shuuseki put the disk into his computer and loaded the program without replying. He opened the program and analyzed it on his computer with a thoughtful frown. It took him close to twenty minutes while Netto stood there because there was no chair on the other side of the desk. /This man hates me/ Netto hissed.
/I highly doubt that, Netto-kun/ Rockman replied /He's probably like this to everyone./
/Then why isn't there a chair/ Netto snapped.
/His way of being superior/ Rockman pointed out. /Again, I'm sure he's this way to everyone./
Netto crossed his arms/I can see why Enzan acted the way he did when he first met him./
/You say that ever time we see his dad/ Rockman sighed.
/Do I/ Netto asked.
/Yes/ Rockman replied.
Shuuseki cleared his throat and held up the disk, handing it back to Netto. "It will do," he said simply. "Hand it in to my secretary downstairs and schedule a time for you to come in and install it."
/It will do? I worked for weeks on this thing/ Netto yelled at Rockman.
Rockman winced/I'm aware. Just let's go before you say something stupid./
Netto nodded stiffly, "All right," he snapped and left the room.
Shuuseki had already turned back to his work but Netto opted not to notice this.
Later that night while Netto was making dinner for himself and Enzan he was still steaming over his meeting with Shuuseki. "I can't believe he's your father!" Netto growled.
"I can," Enzan said dryly. "Or did you forget what I was like when we first met?"
Netto coughed uncomfortably, "Yeah," he said softly. Then his anger decided to return in full force, "But still! How could anyone act like that to other people! He didn't even see me as a person he just saw me as someone who made a program for him!"
Enzan shrugged, "And he sees me as his vice president," he replied.
Netto clamped his mouth shut before he could say anything else that would make Enzan upset at him.
Enzan walked into the kitchen and stood behind Netto. "I'm not upset at you," he said softly. "I'm just saying that whether you like it or not, that is the kind of person my father is. To tell you the truth, your father has been more of a dad to me over the past years then Shuuseki."
"Why do you call him 'sir' or Shuuseki?" Netto asked.
Enzan shook his head and leaned on the counter. "I don't know," he murmured. "After my mother died I couldn't really bring myself to call him Father to his face and after awhile it just didn't come at all."
Netto frowned and continued to stir the simply chili that he was making for dinner. "Ouch, I'm sorry."
Enzan gave Netto a small smile for his benefit. "It's all right, Netto. I'm used to it after all these years."
Blues entered Rockman's room and looked around for the blue navi. He found him lying on his bed, face up with a pillow over his face to block out something. What, Blues didn't know but he was going to try and find out. He walked across the room and sat on Rockman's bed, making it dip a little and causing the navi to give a small grunt of indignation. "Were you really asleep?" Blues asked him.
Rockman sighed under the pillow then removed it from his face, "Almost," he admitted. "Netto-kun has been complaining all day since we met Shuuseki-san," he growled.
Blues gave Rockman a wry smile. "Enzan-sama's father can be… very difficult to get along with," he admitted.
Rockman shook his head, "Blues, you don't understand. I don't mean complain out loud, I mean he thought about it all day. And it gave me a very bad headache."
Blues nodded his head. "I can see this. Does Netto-san know he caused you this pain?"
Rockman shook his head, "No, he doesn't. And in all fairness he's probably not even aware. Shuuseki-san really rubs Netto-kun the wrong way."
"He rubs most people the wrong way," Blues said dryly.
Rockman gave Blues a half hearted smile at the catty retort. "Not fond of Enzan-san's father I see," Rockman noted while pushing himself up and sitting cross-legged away from Blues on the bed.
Blues shrugged and his mouth twisted in a small frown. "I was given to Enzan-sama when he was a very small child, Rockman. Of course this was after his mother had died so I know nothing of his treatment before hand and Enzan-sama really does not like to talk about anything that has to do with his mother. His father is someone who does not like to show any outward emotion and merely pushes people as he does navis to get what he wants when he wants.
"I have no idea how he became like this. For all I know he was a completely different man before his wife died, but somehow I doubt that. Regardless, Shuuseki is Enzan's father but he is by no means a dad to him. I know that sounds harsh but, that's the way it is," Blues finished.
Rockman nodded, "Yeah, I know. I find it sweet that you care about Enzan-san so much," Rockman said with a smile.
A tiny blush tinged Blues' cheeks. "Well, he needed it," he said finally.
Rockman laughed, "Most people do need attention and love, Blues. It's a trait belonging to Navi and human."
Blues looked at the happy-go-lucky navi who had completely abandoned his sulky demeanor in favor of his own problems in a matter of minutes. He nodded and even went so far as to let a small smile cross his lips for Rockman's sake. "Yes," he agreed.
Rockman stretched and fell back into the sheets with his hands over his head. "Netto-kun is feeling better," he noted with a grin.
"He's also guarding his thoughts for some reason," Rockman chuckled. "I wonder what he's talking about with Enzan?"
"Are you going to find out?" Blues asked.
Rockman shook his head, "If he wants me to know, then he'll tell me in due time. I'm sure there's a perfectly good reason. And if he's venting about his meeting earlier today then I pity Enzan, very much."
Blues outright smiled at that comment. "Poor Enzan-sama," he said.
Rockman laughed and nodded, "Indeed."
Netto and Enzan were far from sharing frustration as they slowly sipped the hot stew that Netto had made for them. If anything, the conversation about Enzan's father had turned in an unexpected direction and Netto was beginning to learn about Enzan's life before he got Blues and Netto figured something so private should not be shared, for Enzan's sake.
"My mom was…" Enzan slowly stirred his soup. "Amazing," he said with a small smile. "She had this garden that had everything you could possibly imagine in it. Roses and herbs and things like that. She was almost always sick, I remember. I'm not sure if she had a bad immune system or if the sickness that took her life started before my memories begin. Regardless, she loved that garden and right up until she was bed ridden she would try so hard to tend it at least once a day."
Netto smiled softly and took a bite, "Sounds like my mom. She can't go a day without messing with her little flower garden outside."
Enzan nodded, lost in thought, "Yeah, I remember that about your mom. First time I saw her she was hunched over her flowers."
Netto took another bite and chewed it thoughtfully, "Your mom seemed like she was a really nice person. Every time I hear something about her, it's nice."
"The servants?" Enzan asked.
Netto nodded, "Yeah, I'm assuming 'Lady' is your mother, right?"
Enzan grinned, "Yeah, she hated having the 'sama' tacked onto her name. She declared she was no one's master. But the servants could never bring themselves to call her by her first name and 'san' or even her last name and 'san' so they began to call her 'Lady' and she never renounced it. I figured she was content with a nickname like that and was tired of arguing with the cleaning staff."
Netto laughed, "You know, for some reason it only strengthens what I've heard about her."
"Like what?" Enzan asked while taking a small bite of the soup. To his amazement he found that it was spicy and good so he took another, larger bite.
Netto looked slightly annoyed, "I can cook you know. I don't have a cooking staff to make my meals for me."
Enzan grinned sheepishly, "What have you heard about my mom?" he asked, trying to steer the conversation away from the impending argument.
Netto looked thoughtful, "Just small things. Like once, someone broke something and your dad blew up at them. After he left I heard the woman mutter 'Lady would have never said those things,' while she cleaned up. Small stuff like that."
Enzan nodded, "What little of the staff we still have from before mom died still hold her in very high regards. I've noticed things like that too."
"They like you too, now," Netto pointed out with a grin.
Enzan took a defiant bite of the soup, "I blame you for that," he said through his food.
Netto laughed, "I hope so!" he exclaimed and finished off his bowl. He stood up from the table to get seconds and while in the kitchen, something came to his mind. "What now, as far as my program?" Netto called from the kitchen.
Enzan took another bite and looked thoughtfully into his bowl. "Well, Shuuseki deemed it worthy of being put to use so I'm guessing the bugs will be worked out and in a few days it will be installed."
"Fun," Netto said. "I take it my presence is required?"
"You're the programmer," Enzan replied as Netto sat back down at the table. "I would hope so."
"Well, at least it will be a small reprieve," Netto sighed.
Enzan smiled, "New project?"
Netto nodded, "Busy one too. But don't worry, I won't break our promise."
"Darn, and I was thinking about what I could make you do," Enzan grinned.
"Shut up," Netto laughed good naturedly.
Rockman relaxed a little when Netto's mental guard went down for a bit. "I think they were talking about Enzan-san's mom," he said softly.
"That doesn't happen often," Blues replied.
Rockman shook his head, "No, it doesn't. I'm guessing he misses her though."
Blues smiled wryly, "Oh, I'm sure. I just don't hear much about it."
Rockman shrugged, "Enzan-san's not one to wear his emotions on his sleeve," he pointed out.
Blues nodded, "Netto-san is very good at forcing him too."
Rockman snorted, "Forcing, being the key word there."
"You do the same thing," Blues said with a tiny laugh.
"Do I?" Rockman asked.
Blues nodded, "Yes, you do."
"Hmm…" Rockman said thoughtfully.
Later that night after Blues and Enzan had left, Netto climbed into bed and got ready to turn out the light. "Tired?" Rockman asked.
"Yeah," Netto replied. "But not too bad. We'll see how Wednesday goes."
Rockman nodded, "I'm sure," he replied while turning out his own lights.
Netto chuckled and flipped off the light next to his bed. "Night, Rockman."
"Good night, Netto-kun," Rockman replied and curled up into his bed.
After about ten minutes there was a large thumping sound and Netto's thoughts slowly became active. "Red and Sitio?" Rockman asked sleepily.
/Yes, and the damn cat is right on my head/ Netto growled.
Rockman snorted into his pillow and decided not to answer for fear of saying something he might regret.
Monday and Tuesday came and went rather quickly with a small amount of normalcy. Netto went to work, he dragged Enzan out of his office and they spent the two nights talking together and eating what little Netto's culinary skills could produce.
Finally Wednesday rolled around bright, early and promising.
Netto really didn't care.
"Come on Netto-kun, we should get ready now so we won't be late. Trust me, Shuuseki doesn't seem to be the kind of person to take late comers kindly," Rockman chided his operator.
Netto groaned and pulled the covers tighter around himself, making Sitio move a little and earning Rockman an icy glare from the cat. "Sorry kitty but Netto-kun needs to go to work and he knows it."
The cat blinked slowly, yawned and put his head back into his paws. "Exactly," Netto muttered from under the covers and curled up even tighter.
"Stop acting like a little kid and get up," Rockman said sternly.
"When I know there's coffee out there for me, I'll get out of bed," Netto promised.
Rockman sighed and linked into the kitchen server to start up the coffee maker. After ten minutes the hot liquid was ready and Rockman returned to rouse his twin.
Grumbling, Netto made his way into the kitchen bleary eyed and with no bushy tail to speak of. "Morning," Rockman said cheerfully from the kitchen monitor.
"Mornin," Netto drawled and poured himself a cup of coffee.
"How late were you up last night?" Rockman asked him.
"Till about 1:30," Netto yawned. "I took some work home and then I started to play the new online game and lost track of time," he grinned sheepishly. "Sorry."
"I'm not paying for it," Rockman said dubiously. "Now hurry up, we need to get ready."
"I'm hurrying," Netto assured his navi while taking another slow sip of his morning beverage.
"Right, I'm totally assured," Rockman said dryly.
Netto smiled and took another sip, "We have two hours," he reminded his navi.
"I know," Rockman replied. "But you seem to have the ability to eat up two hours and make it like those two hours never existed."
"I worked years on that talent!" Netto said in an offended tone while grinning wickedly over his cup of coffee.
Rockman rolled his eyes, "Just get ready."
Netto nodded and finished off his coffee, "All right, I'm going," he sighed. He walked over to the sink and set his porcelain coffee cup in it to be washed later that day and went back in his room to change.
"Getting ready, Netto-kun?" Rockman asked him.
"Yes," Netto replied and came out of his room ready to go.
"Okay Netto-kun, let's go," Rockman said.
"Right," Netto answered and picked up his car keys. "We're out of here," he announced as he picked up his PET and walked out the front door.
"Finally," he said with a sigh of relief. "We're going to be there on time."
"I told you we would," Netto said airily as he got into his car.
"Of course you did," Rockman assured him as he logged into the car's system.
Enzan checked his watch and let out a slow breath. "Oh boy," he sighed.
"Enzan-sama, he still has about five minutes before he's actually late," Blues reminded his operator.
"I know," Enzan replied. "But do you really trust him to be on time?" he asked.
"It depends," Blues answered diplomatically.
"What does that mean?" Enzan asked him.
"Rockman just sent me an e-mail. They're in the building and stuck in the elevator," Blues told him.
"You're joking," Enzan sighed while rubbing his forehead. "Please, please, tell me you're joking."
"I'm sorry Enzan-sama, but I'm not joking," Blues replied.
"He's a net savior, can't he fix it?" Enzan growled. "Shuuseki is going to be here any second."
"It's not a virus problem," Blues explained. "It's a problem with the actual elevator. He's really stuck, Enzan-sama."
"The first day he is on time, he gets stuck in an elevator, unbelievable," Enzan sighed.
Netto groaned and let his head thump dully against the metallic wall of the elevator, "The first day I'm on time, I get stuck in an elevator, I can't believe it."
Rockman shrugged, "Well, that's life. I contacted Blues and they should be here soon."
"I mean the elevator really broke down!" Netto yelped. "Like, the elevator broke down! Not viruses, not some kind of silly program error, the freaking elevator broke down!"
"Yes Netto-kun, we've established that," Rockman sighed. "Please be patient."
Netto rubbed his temples, "I'm trying, I really am. It's just…"
"I know," Rockman replied. "I'm well aware of what's going on in your head. Just be patient for a little bit. Everything will work out just fine."
Netto groaned and laid his head against the wall again. "I just want the stupid elevator to work again."
There was a metallic knock above him and the cover came off. "I can do the next best thing," Enzan's voice said through it.
Netto looked up and grinned, "Oh thank god," he said happily.
"Hello," Enzan said and held his arms down. "Grab on."
Netto took Enzan's hands and felt himself get pulled through the ceiling. "Ow!" he yelped when his elbow hit the side.
"Sorry," Enzan said quickly. "I didn't mean to pull that hard. Why didn't you come out yourself?"
Netto grunted as he got the rest of the way out. He blushed, "I couldn't. There was no one in here to help me up."
Enzan smiled. "Ah, it all makes sense now. Come on," he said and pointed out the open doors.
"Yay," Netto said dryly and pulled himself out of the elevator doors. "Let's go. I worked damn hard to not be late."
Enzan nodded and followed Netto. "Right," he agreed. "Let's go because we're going to be out of time in three minutes."
Together Enzan and Netto made it over to the floor where the program was being installed and saved. "On time," Netto breathed happily.
"Barely," Shuuseki said dryly.
"Be thankful," Netto muttered back and walked over to the computer. "Do I need to activate it?" he asked.
Shuuseki nodded, "That is the idea, Hikari-san. As you have the activation code."
Netto shut his eyes tightly and willed away the angry response his mind had come up with for him. "All right," he said through clenched teeth.
Enzan sighed, he knew he was going to be the one listening to Netto's complaining later that day.
Netto opened his security program and typed in the activation code. "Ready?" he asked.
"Any time," Shuuseki said coolly.
Netto slowly clenched his fist and waited a few more moments, just long enough to let Shuuseki clear his throat once before typing in the activation code. "It's up," he announced. "Just tell me when you need me to take it down and I'll deactivate it."
"All right," Shuuseki said and turned on his heel. "I'm going back to my office, please take care of them, Enzan."
"Yes, sir," Enzan replied.
Netto rolled his eyes but resisted the urge to stick out his tongue at the man's back. That was too immature for him. However, thinking all manner of angry things at him wasn't.
"Netto-kun," Rockman groaned softly.
Later that night, after dinner and a long complaining conversation with Enzan, Netto crawled into bed and fell asleep rather quickly.
Rockman grinned and went to bed himself not long after.
Later that evening, Rockman received an emergency e-mail from Blues. He opened it and read it silently, "Netto-kun…" he said softly.
"Hm?" Netto groaned.
"Enzan-san's program was just stolen," Rockman said softly.
Netto sat up in bed and whirled around to face his navi. "What!" he gasped.
Rockman nodded, "I just got the e-mail. Apparently it was stolen with your program still attached."
Netto frowned as he pulled on his lab coat. "So that means that the program is still secure. Anyone know who did it?"
Rockman shook his head, "Not yet they don't. I just now got the e-mail."
Netto sighed and grabbed his PET. "Let's go then," he said while heading out the door.
Enzan turned around as his name was called behind him. He turned around to see Netto waving his arm in greeting as he ran over to his friend. Enzan smiled weakly and nodded as Netto came up to him. "So, you got the news?"
Netto nodded, "Yeup, so is it too soon to know who stole it?"
"We've heard rumors of the Net Terrorist group headed by Fujiko Yamato did it," Enzan said dryly. "This program uses a lot of energy Netto. If she found out how to reverse that energy flow…"
Netto gulped, "Okay. I get it. So now what?"
"Now, I suggest we take off the day and head to HQ to see what we can do. Your program will only hold her off for so long."
Netto nodded, "I already did. My boss understood. It's not every day your program gets stolen," he said dryly. "She wasn't happy about being called up at 2:30 am though," he added as an after thought.
Enzan sighed and looked back on the scene of panicking engineers and IPC spokespeople running around. "Let's go. Laika said he'd meet us there."
Netto nodded, "Lead the way," he said earnestly as they left the increasing panic.
Eventually they made it to the HQ where Andréa and her brother were waiting just inside. "I can't believe this happened!" she gasped as soon as they walked in. "Fujiko got the jump on us again."
Laika stood up and walked over from his silent corner. "I heard it was your security program," he said to Netto.
Netto nodded in reply, "Yeah. She won't break it so easily, but we are definitely on borrowed time."
Mejin came out and handed them all maps. "We've managed to pin point her location for her heist last night. If you can make it in time then we might be able to catch her today."
Netto's eyes lit up, "Can I drive?"
Enzan and Laika both gave him wary looks. "Netto…"
"I'm the fastest driver," Netto said with a wicked grin. "And you both know it."
Andréa nodded fervently, "Yes you can drive. Just get us there now!"
Netto grinned, "It's three am, I've had one cup of coffee and there's really nothing to loose. Let's go."
"Don't kill us," Enzan muttered as they quickly walked out of the familiar building.
Netto nodded, his face then serious. "I won't. Let's just get there in time."
Enzan's features relaxed into a quick smile before his eyes turned forward. "Let's go."
They all piled into Netto's small car. It barely fit the five people, but somehow it managed. As Netto flew through the back streets of Den San everyone around him clung onto anything they deemed solid for dear life.
"This isn't the way!" Andréa cried out.
"Yes it is!" Netto called back to her as he made a sharp left. "Trust me, I used to do this all the time about five years ago."
"I don't miss it," Enzan groaned.
"I'm the best driver there is," Netto smirked. "I had the best times for anyone on scene."
"When you didn't hit anything," Laika said quietly.
Edward and Andréa both blanched as Netto continued to drive them towards their destination.
Finally they made it to the small office building in the older section of the down town area where the program was rumored to have been traced. They all got out of the car, albeit a bit shakily and scoped out the building. "Looks abandoned," Netto murmured.
"Let's check it out," Andréa said solemnly and walked over to the door. She reached out and turned the handle and to her great surprise the door opened.
"Something's not right," Enzan hissed.
Netto looked around, "I know. This is too easy. The tracing, the building, it almost seems like…"
"A trap?" a calm voice asked behind him.
Everyone in the group whirled around to face a tall woman in her late forties. She had cold black eyes and short brown hair and a cruel grin to match any darkloid's. "You kids were always to cautious for your own good," she smirked. "Glad to see none of the originals have died yet. Makes my plan for revenge so much easier."
Netto held his PET behind his back and let Rockman into the net. "Oh really?" he asked the woman, his teeth flashing in a tight smile. "Is that what this is all about?"
"That and getting rid of the thing called the internet that has been bogging down human kind for decades," she hissed.
/Still insane as ever/ Netto noted with nonchalance.
/Live now, sarcastic comments later/ Rockman told him as he scouted around for something to use. /How about a fire hydrant./
Netto looked and saw one right behind her. /Go for it/ he told his navi.
Rockman shot at the program several times with his buster and heard a screech in the real world as Fujiko got soaked. Without a word, Netto, Laika and Enzan all disappeared from the scene to hide in between the alleyway created by two buildings.
Edward pulled his bedraggled and now very wet sister over to them and put his hand over her mouth before she could protest.
Fujiko screeched her rage and stepped out of the jet of water, looking like a wet cat. "Don't think you got away," she yelled out. "There are security cameras all over the place!"
"What took so long?" Enzan asked.
"Not much to work with here," Netto frowned as Rockman came back into his PET. "We're lucky that was there."
"Security cameras my ass," Andréa hissed. "I'll take those out in a second!"
Staccato vanished and reappeared in the net to look around cautiously. "I see, two, three, four…" she paused, "There are about ten programs in all here," she said quietly.
"Only way to take them out is to hit them all at once," Edward said silently as Legato went into the net. "Two at once."
Andréa nodded, "Yeah. That could work."
Blues, Searchman and Rockman all went back into the net and stood back to back with the other navis. "Two per navi then?" Rockman asked.
Legato nodded, "It's the easiest way."
"On the count of three," Andréa said softly. "One, two… three!"
Netto slotted in a bubble side chip while Blues let off a sonic boom. Searchman was so quick with his firing that he merely needed to fire off two shots in rapid succession so that they hit the two programs at the same time. Staccato held out her hands and let two projectile whips come from them to hit the programs and Legato used a simple buster that split into two identical shots after it was fired. All of the security programs fell off line at the same time much to their delight.
From inside the building they could hear a cry of rage. "Step one worked," Netto said with a tiny grin as they all went inside quietly.
"Now we just need to get the program," Laika murmured.
Together the group ran inside and turned the corner to hide in a small hallway in order to continue their plan. "Damn I've missed this," Netto said while breathing heavily from running around so much. "What's next?"
"We have to find that program," Andréa murmured. "I'm guessing, to make sure that no one gets caught we should split up and look for it separately. We're too easy to spot as a single group."
Netto nodded, "Good decision."
"You can find where that program is in two seconds," Enzan murmured in his ear. "Why are you agreeing to this?"
"I can't let the kids see Rockman and me do this," Netto murmured back. "It'll lead to unwanted questions."
Enzan nodded and straightened up. "Okay, let's split up but if you've searched everywhere you can in your area, lets agree to meet back here. Once you find something, send a text e-mail, no video links. Those are too easy to track."
Edward nodded and patted Andréa's arm. "Let's go," he murmured. "They've been doing this far longer then we have."
Andréa seemed to reconsider her reply and nodded, "All right. Text it is," she said softly and looked around the corner. As soon as she noted that the coast was clear she went down a separate hallway. Edward nodded at the three of them then vanished as well, going down a separate hallway from his sister.
"Well?" Laika turned to Netto.
Netto plugged Rockman into the internet. "All of my programs have a signature that I put in manually to make sure that no one can copy them," Netto murmured. "And only I can access it."
"I figured you would do such a thing," Enzan said with a gentle smile. "So, let's start this."
Netto nodded and opened a screen up on his PET. "All right, Rockman," he murmured. "Where is that program?"
Rockman opened up a window and scanned it. "The program is… about 50 meters away from this location. Since I don't have a map I can't tell you which room but I can tell you that it's to the right of my current location." He took his hand off the window and closed it, "Does that help?" he asked.
Netto nodded, "Yeah. That helps. Let's go," he said softly.
Together the three of them went down the hallway and about 10 meters down they found a locked door. "Enzan?" Netto asked. "You wanna take care of this?"
Enzan let Blues go into the program and nodded. "You're right, I did miss this," he said while scanning the program in his PET. "I liked doing this."
Netto chuckled, "Too bad real life tends to get in the way of adventures like this."
"Oh yes," Laika replied dryly. "Because nothing says adventure like making sure you don't blow up the nearest net port because you can't control your link."
Netto bristled, "I only did that once," he hissed at Laika.
"Shhh…." Rockman murmured.
Netto shut up and watched as Enzan got through the program. "This is easier then I remember."
"Probably comes from scanning programs every day," Netto pointed out. "You've learned all the back doors that way."
The door clicked and Enzan opened it. "Speaking of back doors, I couldn't find the back door on your program. Where is it?"
Netto grinned, "Good and I'm not telling. You find it yourself."
Laika smirked as they walked in. "Still cheeky as ever."
"You know that's why you love me," Netto joked as he wrote out an e-mail to Edward and Andréa.
Laika shrugged, "I know that's one of the reasons that you annoy me, not exactly love per se."
Enzan's shoulders shook as he tried to suppress a laugh as Netto glared at his friend. "Har har, very funny."
"Oh, I think it's hilarious," a silky voice said behind them.
Netto didn't even have to turn around. "Hello Fujiko," Netto sighed.
"Hello brat," she hissed.
"Aw come on, I'm grown up now. You can do better then that," Netto baited her as he turned around to face the woman.
Her face melted into an ugly sneer as she held up the gun she was holding. "Don't play with me, Hikari. I know that security program is yours. It has your style written all over it."
"Yay," Netto replied as he gave her a cutesy grin.
Enzan rolled his eyes. "Don't make her shoot you," he growled.
Netto snorted, "As if she should," he whispered back.
"You two shut up," Fujiko snapped. "Now, you're going to take that security program off or so help me, I will do much more then just shoot you."
Behind Fujiko Edward and Andréa came up to look over her shoulder. Netto winked at them briefly before turning his gaze back on Fujiko. "Nothing is below you, is it?"
"Now you're catching on," she said with a cold grin. "Now come on, I don't have all day."
Netto shrugged, "Yes but like you did ten years ago and like you're doing now you always manage to over look one rather large detail."
"What?" she hissed.
Andréa came up behind Fujiko and tapped her on the shoulder. The woman faltered and the spirited young Net Battler snapped her arm behind her and made her drop the gun. "We're here too, grandma," she hissed. "And we don't like being ignored."
Edward walked silently over to the gun and picked it up. He looked over to the men on the other side of the room and gave them a tiny smile.
"And that is how you use teamwork," Netto said happily.
Rockman laughed, "Even if it was Enzan-san's plan."
"Shut up," Netto said good naturedly as he called Mejin.
"Yes?" Mejin asked.
"We're done," Netto said with a grin. "You can come pick up the trash anytime."
Fujiko yelled something at Netto that he pretended not to notice while his friends rolled their eyes. Some things never changed, no matter how much time had passed.
With a happy sigh Netto fell back first onto his couch and stared up at the ceiling. "Thank god that's over with," he murmured.
Laika sat down into one of Netto's chairs and Enzan took his own seat at the opposite end of the couch by Netto's feet. "Tired already?" Rockman teased. "You're getting old, Netto-kun."
Netto snorted, "Not likely," he replied but kept his comfortable position on his back.
Enzan set his PET down and rubbed his temples. "I for one, am glad that came to a close. We still have our lives to return to."
"Thank you for that lovely reality check," Netto muttered at Enzan.
"Any time," Enzan replied.
"Well, at least I didn't have to use that to get through anything," Netto replied happily as he stretched his arms over his head.
"That?" Laika asked.
"The link," Netto said matter of factly. "I can use it to hack into data and manipulate it sometimes but it gives me the worst headaches."
"Like when you used it to finish that security program and you were half dead the next day," Enzan snapped at his friend.
Netto shrugged easily, "Hey, that security program is what kept your program from getting used in Fujiko's wonderfully fiendish scheme," he said to Enzan while saying 'fiendish scheme' a tad sarcastically.
Enzan sighed, "I'm not denying that but you're so lenient about those things."
Netto shrugged and laid his head on the pillow at the base of the couch. "And that's why we make such a great team, Enzan."
"Indeed," Blues said softly.
Rockman hid a tiny smile behind his hand as his twin remained clueless.
The next day Laika left the country to return to his job as the recruit trainer with renewed vigor. After being reminded that he no longer had to put up with a 12 year old Netto he had a slight different perspective on the job.
Enzan and Netto returned to work and continued to nag at one another, taking extreme measures to make sure that they were not the ones to loose the bet. Rockman and Blues watched the battle go back and forth with slight interest but they were slightly more interested in each other's company after awhile and often retreated to Blues' room to read, chat or just enjoy each other's company.
Meanwhile, Netto and Enzan were so interested in trying to win their little wager that little attention was paid to anything else. However, the fact that it kept Netto spacing his work load and Enzan leaving at sane hours of the day none of their co-workers really had anything to complain about so they didn't care.
Finally, one night they sat down to talk and came to a general realization without their navis there and their navis were very proud after they found out.
Netto wandered over to his couch and sunk into it with a sigh. Enzan followed him and pressed a cup of tea into his hands. "Tired?" he asked.
Netto nodded and sat up to take the beverage that was offered to him. "Yeah, but I'm fine. Just a little more on this program and it should be done by tomorrow."
"You're not cheating?" Enzan asked incredulously.
"I'm not using the link, no," Netto growled before taking a cautious sip of the scalding liquid.
Enzan set his own tea cup on a coaster and nodded while leaning back into the couch's cushions. "Good," he said simply.
Netto snorted and set his own cup down. "Why, don't trust me?"
"No, I do," Enzan said quickly. "I do… but…"
"Yes?" Netto asked him a little angrily.
"I'm just concerned. I mean, you've been pushing yourself lately and so have I," Enzan rubbed his temples. "This way of living is straining me for some reason."
"Rockman and Blues are just fine," Netto replied. "They're living at the same pace we are."
"Yeah, but they're navis," Enzan protested.
"No, they're just not stressed. What's wrong? Why are you so… uptight lately?" Netto asked his friend.
"You're the same, why don't you tell me?" Enzan shot back and glared at Netto.
Both men held one another's gaze then blushed and looked away simultaneously. Finally, Netto took in a deep breath; he knew someone had to say something. He had felt Rockman's affection for Blues for a long time and he knew it was time he came forward and said something. Not that it couldn't totally back fire but he knew he was driving Rockman nuts, so it was the only fair thing to do. "Enzan?" he asked.
"Hm?" Enzan replied, concentrating on a small coffee stain on the floor.
"What would you do if… hypothetically you liked someone, and that's why you were stressed?" Netto asked.
Enzan gulped, he knew it. Netto liked someone else, probably Meiru. They had been friends for so long, obviously he had an attraction to the pretty woman. "I don't know…" he said softly. "Confess?"
"What if… it's not that easy because you don't know how they would react?" Netto asked him.
"I'd still try. Better to do something then none at all," Enzan replied. And so I can put it out of my mind, he thought to himself.
Netto opened his mouth then closed it silently without saying a word. "What…" he said then suddenly he found his mouth to be unbearably dry. He closed his mouth and swallowed, "What if that person that someone else had a hypothetical attraction to was the same gender?"
Enzan brought his gaze up to Netto's and matched him stare for stare. "You mean like Rockman and Blues?"
Netto chucked weakly, "You noticed too, huh?"
"Who wouldn't?" Enzan replied.
"Yeah," Netto said softly.
Enzan let out a slow breath, "I think that if you come forward and admit your true feelings that the person should accept them, regardless of what gender they are."
Netto nodded and was silent for a bit. Finally he found his voice again, "Enzan?"
"I know," Enzan said softly. "Me too."
Netto smiled and leaned into Enzan's arms, surprising the taller man. "Good."
Enzan's mask of surprised melted into one of gentle caring as he held the man he knew that he loved. He nodded contentedly and offered no other words.
Rockman looked up from his book in Blues' room. "Finally!" he said with a smirk.
"Who confessed?" Blues asked without looking up from his own novel.
"Netto-kun, kind of. It just seemed to happen," Rockman said with a smile as he looked back down at the pages.
Blues shifted his weight so that Rockman could stretch a little. Both of them were on a couch and Rockman was curled into Blues. "Well then, I assume this is the end of this little saga."
"Watch as we dive right into the next," Rockman chuckled.
"Don't even say that," Blues muttered.
Rockman nodded and soon became absorbed with his own book once again. Both navis and both humans remained where they were for the remainder of the night, nestled in one another's embraces ready to face the world when the sun dawned anew.